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Faith & Justice

A troubling new report issued by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) suggests that Christians are being censored online because of their religious beliefs.

In a 43-page report, the NRB stated that many of the biggest new Internet sites blocked Christian content and refused to accept faith-based advertisements. “Our conclusion is that Christian ideas and other religious content face a clear and present danger of censorship on Web-based communication platforms,” the report concluded.

The study focused on the biggest and most influential online platforms and service providers. The NRB looked at Apple and its iTunes App Store, Facebook, MySpace (prior to its recent change in ownership), Google, Twitter, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. Only Twitter got a passing grade.

“There’s actually a pattern of anti-Christian censorship that’s already occurred among several of them. And, then, when we looked farther, looked at their written policies, we found that [with] everyone of them, except for Twitter again,” Craig Parshall, general counsel for the NRB, said. “They get an A+ from us. The rest of them get failing grades,” he added.

A number of organizations worked with the NRB on this project, including the ACLJ. Senior Counsel Colby May, who heads up our office of governmental affairs in Washington, put the issue into the proper perspective in an interview with a reporter: “More speech is better than less speech. Open and robust debate and contending for the things that matter is essential.”

 The report identifies key issues of concern: “(1) the past practices of anti-Christian censorship among some of these platforms; (2) free speech-inhibiting policies that facilitate censorship and which are already in place among almost all of the web-based communications companies reviewed here; (3) both market-driven and self-interest motivations for these companies to impose viewpoint censorship; and (4) the trend toward technological convergence of these platforms, which will further entrench their discriminatory practices and/or policies.”

Let’s hope this report serves as a wake-up call to the mega Internet-interactive “new media” companies. The First Amendment is the cornerstone of our freedoms. And, it’s certainly time these online companies and providers get the message, too.

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